Cuban-Style Roast Pork

Use fresh lime juice for this mojo marinade. Bottled lime juice just doesn’t give the brightness and crisp flavor that fresh limes impart.

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Marinating time: 4-24 hours
  • Yield: 6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 6-8 pound bone-in Boston butt or pork shoulder

For the mojo marinade:

  • 1 head garlic (about 10 cloves), peeled
  • 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 cup grapefruit juice, from 1 medium grapefruit
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice, from about 8 limes
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, from 1 medium orange
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, to finish the mojo sauce

Special equipment:

Method

1 Prepare the mojo marinade: To your blender or food processor add the garlic cloves, chopped onion, dried oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, grapefruit, lime, and orange juices, vinegar, and olive oil.

Blend or puree the ingredients together on medium speed until the garlic and onions are very fine—almost resembling a soupy paste.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture for the sauce and set it aside. You will use what remains to marinate the pork.

Side view of blender pitcher set on a marble background with limes, oranges and halved grapefruit next to it. A person is putting spices in the pitcher.Top view of blender container with pureed marinade inside. Juiced limes, measuring cup, salt, spices and pork roast are around the pitcher and on a marble background.

2 Marinate the pork: Take your Boston butt and make 1-inch-wide slits, 4 inches deep into the meat (be careful not to hit the bone too hard with your knife). This will help the marinade penetrate the inner part of the roast.

Place the pork in a bowl or dish large enough to hold the meat. Pour the mojo marinade that’s still in your blender or food processor over the pork. Give the pork a turn to coat it in the marinade and cover the dish.

A baking sheet rests on a marble background with a raw pork shoulder in it. A hand with a chef's knife is cutting deep slits in the roast. Cuban-style pork shoulder submerged in marinade in a clear plastic container. The container sits on a marble background.

3 Transfer to the refrigerator: Marinate the pork for 4-12 hours in the refrigerator. If the pork is not fully covered in the marinade, turn it over during the marinating time to make sure it’s getting all it can from the mojo. Because I usually begin marinating my pork roast the evening before cooking it, I usually turn it in the morning after it’s marinated overnight.

4 Heat the oven to 350°F.

5 Roast the pork: After the meat has marinated, transfer it to a roasting pan (with or without a rack). Roast the pork, uncovered, for 3 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the fleshiest part, not touching the bone, reads 165°F.

Cuban-style pork roast covered in golden marinade and resting on a rack in a roasting pan. The pan rests on a marble background. Cuban-style pork roast with a crispy crust resting in a roasting pan.

6 Rest the meat: When the roast is ready, remove it from the oven. The top will be beautifully caramelized from the sugars and the aromatics that were in the mojo. Loosely cover the roast with a large piece of aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes while you heat the reserved 1 1/2 cups of mojo sauce.

Mojo is pungent and can be overwhelming in its raw form. To serve it as a sauce, it’s best to cook it to soften the harshness a bit.

7 Make a slurry: In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon from the reserved mojo and stir together until no lumps of cornstarch remain.

8 Heat and thicken the mojo sauce: Pour the mojo sauce and the cornstarch slurry into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat while stirring frequently.

Once the mixture begins to boil, lower the temperature and allow the sauce to simmer for 5-6 minutes while stirring occasionally. Allowing the mojo to simmer will mellow out the garlic and onion flavors considerably. The sauce is ready when it reaches the consistency of maple syrup.

Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl. The mojo sauce may be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.

Mojo marinate in a sauce pan. A small glass bowl with thickened marinade and a tablespoon rest on a marble background to the right. Creamy golden sauce in a pan with a whisk. Hand holding a spoon dripping sauce over pan.

9 Serve the roast pork and sauce: After the pork has rested, which allows the juices to settle down and not run everywhere when you cut it, use a carving knife to slice the roast. Serve it with a side of rice and beans and plantains. Pour the sauce over the sliced portions of pork after serving.

LEFTOVERS! Leftovers may be refrigerated for 2-3 days and reheated in the microwave or, my favorite way, by lightly sautéing in a skillet with a bit of mojo sauce until warmed through.  Any leftover mojo sauce should be covered and stored in the refrigerator.